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Saturday, October 8, 2011
Barnard Post Office Discontinuance Meeting October 3, 2011
On Monday, October 3, 2011, members of the Barnard community had an opportunity to voice their concerns about the Barnard Post Office Discontinuance Study. Robert G. Mikulecky, Jr., Postmaster of the Abilene post office was present to make a statement about the proposed closure of the Barnard post office and to answer questions that affected postal patrons may have. The postmaster from Osborne, Kansas was present to record comments, questions, and concerns to be sent to USPS headquarters for consideration. A staff person from United States Senator Jerry Moran’s office was present in the audience.
Postmaster Mikulecky made a statement intended to reassure the Barnard postal patrons that services would not change and that a Barnard address and zip code would be maintained. When the forum was opened to the public, Barnard Banter editor, Travis Zirkle, opened with a statement quoted from a letter that Senator Moran sent to Postmaster General Donahoe concerning a possible violation of Section 101(b) of Title 39 of the United States Code. This section states: “The Postal Service shall provide a maximum degree of effective and regular postal services to rural areas, communities, and small towns where post offices are not self-sustaining. No small post office shall be closed solely for operating at a deficit, it being the specific intent of the Congress that effective postal services be insured to residents of both urban and rural communities.” Mr. Zirkle then continued with more information from the letter: “the Postal Regulatory Commission has found that maintaining rural post offices only amounts to 0.7% of the USPS’s total budget.” Mr. Zirkle asked Postmaster Mikulecky for his response. Mr. Mikulecky responded that the post office wasn’t being closed because it was operating at a deficit, that it was being closed because there was less than two hours of work available. Kenny Wallace asked how the amount of work was determined which was answered with that the formula took into consideration the amount work coming in and revenue. Kenny also asked what would happen to Crystal’s job. Mr. Mikulecky explained about filling available positions elsewhere with people from closed offices, but there was a chance there would be layoffs.
The Barnard city council took on an active role in the meeting as well. Nancy Houghton said that the information that we have received made it sound as if the closure was a forgone conclusion. She asked if there was anything that Barnard could do to save the post office. The reply was that what the city could do could not be determined by the government but the city had to decide what it was going to do. Mr. Mikulecky brought up the village concept post office. Travis Zirkle questioned that approach because Barnard has no suitable business to house a village post office. In regards to Mr. Mikulecky’s statement about people doing postal business by computer and cell phone, Jan Dowlin replied that not everybody has a computer in this area and that not everyone has good cell phone reception and that conducting business in that fashion was not an option for many people in this area. Jan also suggested that since Barnard is in the middle of several post offices that are being closed, that Barnard could be kept open to service those areas. David Abell asked several questions regarding what the post office was doing to offset its deficit. Mr. Mikulecky said that the post office was past its profitable years. The larger stations could no longer carry the smaller offices. When cutting Saturday service was brought up, David Abell took an informal poll and said that if it would save Barnard’s post office, then it looked like everybody there was willing to give up Saturday service. It was also brought up that the city was struggling and grants asked what government services we had available. If we lost our post office, grants would be more difficult to successfully apply for and would in fact, hurt our town severely.
Concerns were also brought up about the safety of our rural carrier and the added workload. If people were conducting more business by carrier then he would have to carry larger amounts of money. In addition, there would be more time added to his current time. It already takes approximately six hours to complete his route and that isn’t including bad weather delays. Also, it was a concern as to how certified and registered mail services would be handled. The reply was that we may have to drive to Lincoln. It was also brought up that our population is an aging population and some had limited driving abilities which made the 15-30 mile drive to a post office nearly impossible. It was reiterated that just about any service conducted in a post office could be conducted by carrier.
There is a 138 day process that has already begun. In November we should be getting information about whether or not our office is closing. If our office does close, rural delivery should be in place by the end of January. If there are any questions, concerns, or comments, Mr. Mikulecky’s contact information is below.
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